How Can You Help a Child with ADD at Home?

Life with a child or teen with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD) can be frustrating, even overwhelming. But as a parent you can help your child overcome daily challenges, channel their energy into positive arenas, and bring greater calm to your family.

ADHD parenting tip 1: Stay positive and healthy yourself

As a parent, you set the stage for your child’s emotional and physical health. You have control over many of the factors that can positively influence the symptoms of your child’s disorder.

Maintain a positive attitude. Your best assets for helping your child meet the challenges of ADHD are your positive attitude and common sense. When you are calm and focused, you are more likely to be able to connect with your child, helping them to be calm and focused as well.

Keep things in perspective. Remember that your child’s behaviour is related to a disorder. Most of the time it is not intentional. Hold on to your sense of humour. What’s embarrassing today may be a funny family story ten years from now.

Tip 2: Establish structure and stick to it

Children with ADHD are more likely to succeed in completing tasks when the tasks occur in predictable patterns and in predictable places. Your job is to create and sustain structure in your home, so that your child knows what to expect and what they are expected to do.

Tips for helping your child with ADHD stay focused and organized:

Follow a routine. It is important to set a time and a place for everything to help the child with ADHD understand and meet expectations. Establish simple and predictable rituals for meals, homework, play, and bed. Have your child lay out clothes for the next morning before going to bed, and make sure whatever he or she needs to take to school is ready to grab.

Use clocks and timers. Consider placing clocks throughout the house, with a big one in your child’s bedroom. Allow enough time for what your child needs to do, such as homework or getting ready in the morning. Use a timer for homework or transitional times, such as between finishing up play and getting ready for bed.

Tip 3: Encourage movement and sleep

Children with ADHD often have energy to burn. Organized sports and other physical activities can help them get their energy out in healthy ways and focus their attention on specific movements and skills. The benefits of physical activity are endless: it improves concentration, decreases depression and anxiety, and promotes brain growth.

Help your child get better rest by trying out one or more of the following strategies:

  • Decrease television time and increase your child’s activities and exercise levels during the day.
  • Eliminate caffeine from your child’s diet.
  • Create a buffer time to lower down the activity level for an hour or so before bedtime.
  • Spend ten minutes cuddling with your child.
  • Use lavender or other aromas in your child’s room.
  • Use relaxation music as background noise for your child when falling asleep.

If you keep in mind that having ADHD is just as frustrating for your child, it will be a lot easier to respond in positive, supportive ways. With patience, compassion, and plenty of support, you can manage childhood ADHD while enjoying a stable, happy home.

For more information about helping your child with ADD, contact Anel Annandale at 083 711 5267 or via email at  anel@childpsych.co.za.

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